Chronicle: Researchers and Scientific Groups Make New Push Against Impact Factors

Reported today in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

More than 150 researchers and 75 scientific groups issued a declaration on Thursday against the widespread use of journal “impact factors,” blaming the practice for dangerous distortions in financing and hiring in science.

The impact factor “has a number of well-documented deficiencies as a tool for research assessment,” the scientists said in the letter, which had been in preparation since a conference led by publishers and grant-writing agencies last year in San Francisco.

Those deficiencies include the ability of publishers to manipulate the calculations, and the way the metrics encourage university hiring and promotion decisions, as well as grant agencies’ award distributions, that can lack an in-depth understanding of scientific work.

For some analysts, the impact factor has largely become an outsourced proxy for research quality, allowing decision makers (like tenure committees and deans) to forego actually reading faculty members’ work. Full article on line: http://chronicle.com/article/ResearchersScientific/139337/

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